Pretty amazing, don’t you think?

“Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.”

Sunflowers 2014 082

Sunflowers 2014 016

Sunflowers 2014 057

Sunflowers 2014 020

Sunflowers 2014 067

Sunflowers 2014 023

Sunflowers 2014 039

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?” – Mary Oliver



Back to school 2014

I waiver between “Damn it, summer is over,” and “Yay, thank God they are gone again!” Mostly I feel the first emotion because, let’s be honest, I love summer and HATE getting up before 7:00 if I can help it. Cora is also currently walking around and whining. It’s going to be a big transition to have her ‘my Simon’ gone all day.

Related: I just pulled Kit-Kat’s head out of the cat box. I just can’t wait to deal with her all day!

August 2014 008 August 2014 015 August 2014 023 August 2014 032

Simon is going into 5th grade and his final year at Deerfield. His teacher is Ms. Heart. Bennett is going into 1st grade and his teacher is Mrs. Bland. It’s so hard to wrap my mind around these facts. Weren’t we just starting kindergarten with Simon? How is this possible?

Regardless, have a great day at school boys! I will see you in 7 hours while my kitchen stays spotless and not a single child yells at another.

Previous back to school: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009.


The invitation was on the fridge for weeks before Simon even noticed. The front read, “This day, I will marry my best friend / the one I laugh with, live for, love” and it featured Tim and Mark holding hands while walking.

“Tim is gay?” Simon asked. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Yes and he’s marrying Uncle Mark. We didn’t mention it because we didn’t think it was important,” we answered. “It’s going to be an awesome party celebrating two people who love each other very much. Just you wait…” we continued.

And then Simon walked away and that was the end of that. No more questions, or inquiries, or judgments, or rude comments, or justifications on the who/what/or why. Simon just simply believed in the power of love and the trust of our words.


And was it an amazing party? Oh, yes indeed it was. We danced and sang and drank (maybe some of us a little too much) the night away in the beautiful mountains. My favorite part was watching Matt perform the ceremony and Bennett having the honor of bringing the rings down the aisle.

I was most proud, however, of Mark and Tim. I wish you both nothing but the best in your years together. In a world that doesn’t always value the power of love, know that we are rooting for you.

Simon is too, of course.

Simon’s 11th birthday

It started right after Christmas with Simon, this sudden and deep desire of his to own a puppy. He spent hours begging for a puppy and would often show us screenshots of available puppies from various Google searches. It didn’t matter to him if the litter was in Texas and were show-dog quality. A litter of puppies was available!

In my head, this yearning for a puppy feels like the beginning of the end of his childhood and I would be lying if I didn’t admit that this is my last-ditch effort to keep him young. He’s 11 years old now and it won’t be long before puppy love has been replaced by real love. A love of friends, of soccer, of running and iPhones, of (gasp) girls will all be more important than anything I have to offer at home.

So with these thoughts in mind and his birthday looming closer and closer, I began the reluctant search for a puppy. We wanted something that would be interested in running, but not any bigger than our 70 lb. Labrador. I also wanted something that doesn’t shed, as I spend enough time vacuuming the floor. We also didn’t want anything ridiculously expensive.

Simon, meanwhile, was none the wiser to our secret searches.

July 2014 167

On the day of his birthday, we had him sit on the porch and wait while Matt and I ran to Great-Grandma’s to retrieve the box. Roan and Rowdy had almost ruined the surprise by telling Simon that they bought him puppy treats for his birthday. We tried to deflect by pointing out that there was no puppy (Do you see a puppy, Simon?) and that he was going to be VERY disappointed when he opened the box. We also mentioned that although Lizzy girl is an older dog, she would probably appreciate some new treats.

July 2014 130 July 2014 131July 2014 136 July 2014 141

Our one great mistake is that we didn’t get a video recording of him opening his present. It doesn’t matter because I don’t think Matt and I will ever forget him exclaiming, “IT’S A PUPPY! IT’S A PUPPY!” while quickly wiping away tears.

When he opened the box and saw this little sweet German Shorthair Pointer, I believe that he was completely and utterly shocked.

July 2014 169

He named her Kit-Kat, like the candy bar, which is ironic as Simon doesn’t like candy bars at all. I really wanted to name her Little Ann from the story, “Where the Red Fern Grows,” which is about a boy who desperately wants a puppy. I was vetoed, however, which is fine because she’s not my puppy.

If it were up to me, we wouldn’t even have a puppy. I was perfectly fine with our (neglected) fish tank, hamster, cat, and geriatric dog.

July 2014 203

But like so much in life, this puppy isn’t really about me. It’s more about a boy and the desires of his heart. Who am I to say no to that? Yes, Kit-Kat will be responsibility and lots of work. Yes, she will potty on the floor and dig in the garden. Yes, she will probably run all over the neighborhood.

My hope, however, lies in the fact that one blond-headed, gapped tooth, freckled face kid is chasing after this green-eyed little beauty. It won’t be long before Simon’s eyes find something else pretty to chase, I just know it. So for now, he’s deeply in the trenches of puppy love and I couldn’t be happier.

July 2014 198

Happy 11th birthday, Simon Pool.

Your Dad and I love you more than you even know.


Cora’s 3rd birthday {party}

Cora Jane insisted that she wanted a blue birthday cake on her 3rd birthday. She doesn’t consistently label her colors correctly, so hypothetically, she could have had a purple cake and would have never known the difference. (I really wanted a rainbow cake which I showed her approximately 10,382 times on pinterest but she told me no every single time.)

So what the birthday girl wants, the birthday girl gets. Grandma helped decorate her “blue velvet” cake and adorned it with sprinkles. It obviously isn’t as pretty as in past years, but it will do.

May 2014 197

May 2014 204

May 2014 213

We debated on what to get this little princess for her birthday. I really wanted Matt to make her a doll house, but time was running short and life was too crazy busy. The week before her birthday, I was shopping the Walmart nursery and discovered a perfect, pretty (already assembled) playhouse. The best part? It was on sale for 10% off.

You all know how I love a good deal, right?

At some point, I might paint and/or stain it a slightly different color. For now, Cora’s house is working just fine.

May 2014 224

May 2014 233

May 2014 240

When she saw her house for the first time, she twirled around and said, “for me?” and I’m pretty sure I died at that exact moment. It’s a feeling I know entirely too well, sweet Cora Jane.

Yes, for you.

May 2014 soccer 408-001

She really was the best gift I ever received. It’s hard to imagine that 3 years ago she blessed our little happy family on my 28th birthday. I often wonder if we can ever top the pink caboose with anything sweeter.

I am pretty sure, almost 100% confident, that the answer is no.

Happy birthday, sweet girl!

Birth story, 1st birthday, 2nd birthday



Easter, one month later

Well, another awkward break in blogging and can only be explained by the fact that my laptop is broken, done, dead. It died a very sudden death and suddenly would not turn on at all. Let us all take a moment of silence and mourn the loss of my five year old Walmart computer.

(Single tear)

As you can imagine, this caused my photo related anxiety to go through the roof.

Cora’s ENTIRE life in pictures was on that computer. I’ve done a pretty good job of backing everything up on the external hard-drive. I have done a terrible job of printing pictures and/or creating photo books. (My goal for the summer is to work on that, pending I get a new laptop.) (Related: CJ’s poor baby book. #thirdchild.) I have done a mediocre job of blogging with said pictures.

Hence, today’s blog post about Easter, a month overdue.

May 2014 019

May 2014 061

May 2014 098

May 2014 118

May 2014 134

We spent Easter at my sister’s house in Olathe. After attending church, we cooked a delicious lunch and had an egg hunt out in the yard. I’m not sure we could look any more all American, even if we tried. My scarf had an unfortunate meeting with a Scentsy wax warmer as we were getting ready, but the oil stain was hidden indiscreetly. I can’t say the same about the orangey-vanilla scent that wafted my way whenever I took a step.

The point of that story is to say that despite looking decent in the pictures, we all have secrets that we keep. The good news is that I tell (most of) my secrets online. So if anybody would like to donate to the new laptop fund, just let me know.

I can’t promise that I’ll blog more, but I can promise to make you feel better about yourself when I do.


Poop Stalemate // Proceed with caution

Remember when I boasted a few months ago about working on potty training with Cora? HAHAHAHA. Just kidding on that whole thing. We’ve been battling this strong-willed, stubborn, totally independent, A MONTH SHY OF THREE YEARS OLD little girl for months and months. (I have NO idea where she gets these traits! Certainly not me.) (Also? Both boys were trained at 2.5 years.) We will have a week of no accidents, and then another of frequent messes. While she totally gets the whole process, she could really care less about getting the job done.

Wet pants? NO PROBLEM.

Except wet pants aren’t even my biggest concern. We have entered what I like to refer to as the POOP STALEMATE. Are you familiar with chess? A stalemate is a situation in which a player cannot successfully move any of the pieces and neither player can win. Now re-read that sentence and replace ‘pieces’ with ‘poop,’ and ‘player’ with ‘Cora.’

A situation in which CORA cannot successfully move any POOP and neither player can win.

In case you are wondering, NOBODY WINS THE POOP STALEMATE.

She will withhold and withhold and withhold some more. Basically it is torture watching your sweet baby girl refuse to sit on the potty but also refuse to use a diaper. (Don’t worry, we’ve offered both, on many occasions.) So I really had no choice but to create a sticker potty chart. Research is pretty split on the benefits of using sticker charts and reward systems, but we were desperate. NOTHING ELSE WAS WORKING.

April fool 2014 091 April fool 2014 101

A trip to (mostly) the Target $1.00 Spot and a roughly created chart resulted in a girl who will now sit eagerly on her royal throne. When I say “eagerly,” I really mean without screaming or throwing an epic fit. It still takes plenty of coaching (plus an ounce of trust when she says no), but she is not going hours and hours between bathroom breaks. Or coming downstairs in an outfit change after she had an accident.

Eventually, we will increase the amount of stickers required to earn a treat from the basket. Right now, six stickers results in a shiny new toy.

In other words, CHECKMATE.
Poop fairy Poop fairy

As for the poop stalemate, we’re still working on it. I’ll keep you guys posted, as I am sure you are on the edge of your seat with anticipation.

PS. I should probably apologize to Cora now for telling the internet about her pooping practices.

PPS. Sorry Cora.

PPPS. You’re such a little stinker, darling, but I mean that in the most loving way. Also? It’s your move.


April Fool’s 2014

Today was a day of fun. In fact, yesterday almost felt like the day before Christmas once the kids were finally asleep. I might be an adult, but I refuse to act like one. What can I say? I’m hardcore into having fun. Honest, not hurting anybody, gets a good giggle kind of fun.

Trick #1: Phone Fun! I started the night before by taking Simon’s phone while he was asleep and posting a few “selfies” with the sleeping boy. Since I knew that he would PROMPTLY delete the pictures once he saw them, I decided to LOOM UP HIS PHONE. I am not even kidding when I say I pick up AT LEAST 10 of these tiny rubber bands a day. Finally, payback! We be looming!Trick #2: Edible Dog Poo! This recipe was super easy and I SHOCKED Bennett when I nonchalantly took a piece and popped some into my mouth. To make, mix a couple of spoons of peanut butter, a squirt of chocolate syrup, and flour together. You want enough flour to clean the sides of the bowl. Next, add a sprinkle of brown sugar to give it some “texture.” (GAG ME NOW.) Roll the chocolate pieces into logs and place it around the house.

I left a few pieces on the floor of the bathroom with toilet paper strewn about and a special pile in Simon’s room.  April fool 2014 108Trick #3: Pretend Vomit! This recipe was a little more complicated than the others. Basically you are going to mix applesauce, unflavored gelatin, lemon jello, oatmeal and cheese together. First, make the lemon Jello according to the package. Then add two tablespoons lemon Jello to a scoop of applesauce and warm it up for 30 seconds. Sprinkle the gelatin mixture into the applesauce and stir. Add the cheese and oatmeal. Finally, pour the entire mixture onto a plate and allow it to dry for a few hours. Seriously disgusting.

It was an absolutely revolting jellied mixture that could be picked up and moved. On a scale of 1-10, folks, I would give this an 11. It was worse than the dog poo and that is saying something. April fool 2014 131 Trick #4: Jello Juice! Since the vomit recipe only calls for a few tablespoons of a lemon Jello, I used the rest to make some juice. This trick is an old one, but new to sweet little Cora Jane. She was stumped when her straw wouldn’t work correctly. Simply prepare the Jello according to the package, pour into glass jars, add a straw, and place in the refrigerator.

    April fool 2014 117  April fool 2014 122April fool's dinner!

Trick #5: Chicken Pot Pie! Original recipe from here. Simply bake a frozen pie shell, add some vanilla pudding, a few starbursts for the corn and carrots, skittles for the peas, and some banana for the chicken. Throw it down on the table with a side of salad, some Jello juice, and call the kids to the dinner table.

Not surprisingly, Cora was the only child to eat any of the chicken pot pie. She’s got a sweet tooth.

April fool 2014 141

So there you go!  A very fun but exhausting day. I had a few more ideas in my head, but they will have to wait until next year. If in doubt for funny ideas, then search the internet. There are so many creative people, full of creative ideas. The dog poo and vomit recipes both came from Simon’s personal copy of “Pranklopedia,” by Julie Winterbottom.

Check it out if you are into that sort of thing, which (obviously) is the sort of book that my family totally loves. I mean, who doesn’t love fake vomit? (Don’t answer that.)

How to make cloud dough

Did you know that back in the day I used to teach early childhood deaf and hard of hearing kiddos? There are days when I miss that job so much. I loved the creative aspect of designing and implementing fun things for little kids to do AND I GOT PAID FOR IT.

Now I only do fun things for my kids every fourth Thursday of every third month. Just kidding. It only feels like it anyways. If I don’t find things for Cora Jane to do, then she will end up in front of a screen (iPad, tv, phone..she isn’t picky). So enter the magical, amazing, so soft CLOUD DOUGH! It’s like playing with regular flour, yet it is able to hold shapes. Cora spent a solid hour making “cupcakes with candles.”

To make, mix 8 cups of flour with 1 cup of oil.

Other recipes called for baby oil and, unfortunately, I didn’t have any baby oil. I used vegetable oil and it was fine.  march 2014 073 march 2014 091 march 2014 112

Be forewarned that this activity is pretty messy. Cora ended up with flour all over the counter, floor, and her face. Consequently that was fine with me, because I would rather see her face caked in flour then glued to the screen of the iPad.